Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My hero

Snakes continue to complicate my life, but today I received help from an unexpected quarter.

Magic was deeply traumatized by our last encounter with the python; it was two weeks before she'd even risk sleeping on the floor at night.
Last week I noticed the python's track on the road by my house. That night it tried to take Wobbly Cat. She often sleeps outside on warm nights, and I found her in the morning standing stiffly on the drive, staring constantly around her with saucer eyes. She had a patch of dried saliva across her shoulders and, although seemingly unhurt, she would not move. Her legs trembled for the next four hours. I put her on my bed, and she's stayed there, continuously scanning the door, window and floor, for the last four days.

To exacerbate the trauma, yet another Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica) has moved into my house. These charmers can spit venom up to 1.5 metres and although their venom is relatively dilute (better for spitting) they're still lethal. The summer before last, a local ranger died after being bitten on the wrist by a youngster he was removing from a nearby lodge.

The cobras come into my house to hunt the frogs, who come in to catch the bugs, who come in to batter themselves against the lights (I felt like Dr Zuess there). My latest house guest spat in Magic's eyes twice on Saturday and although the dogs and cats are convinced its still in the house, I haven't been able to find where it's lurking (I found the last one nestled under the mattress on the bed in my spare room).

Anyway, today as I was working on my computer I heard a kafuffle on the back doorstep. Dashing out, I was startled to find a large Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) happily scoffing down the spitting cobra. I'd missed seeing him actually kill the unfortunate creature, but he consumed it in less than 5 seconds. Nile monitors are Africa's largest lizard (growing up to 2 metres long) and this particular one (a modest 1.5 m) is a regular visitor. He licks out the dogs' food bowls and bathes in my dish of tadpoles. But until today, I had not realised what a wonderful asset he was!

1 comment:

  1. For lack of something more articulate, that is so cool.


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